Jun 20, 2023

2023's New Guns, Ammo and Optics for Whitetail Hunters

As part of our Hunting Annual issue, we feel it is our duty to gather the industry’s best deer gear for gun hunters. Nothing beats the tradition of entering the whitetail woods with gun in hand, blaze orange on your back, and the hope to bag a big buck. In the event you’re looking for some new gear to help you do so, we’ve got you covered.

Trusted by the North American Whitetail TV crew as high-quality deer rifles, Browning’s X-bolt series has something for every gun-toting whitetail hunter. And for the deer hunter looking for a rifle that’s easier on the ears, you can’t beat Browning’s X-Bolt Speed Suppressor Ready. The Speed SR comes with barrel lengths that are four inches shorter than normally paired with calibers. This means that when you pull your X-Bolt Speed out of the box and add your suppressor, you don’t have to worry about the rifle being too long to maneuver. (

It’s a honey of a bolt-action, and while some may argue that the long-action centerfire cartridge is too much for deer, it’s not. When paired with the correct round and put in the right place, Mossberg’s Patriot Predator 7MM PRC is an excellent open-country whitetail rifle. The gun comes with a top-mounted picatinny rail for quick and easy scope attachment, and the fluted barrel and spiral bolt reduce weight and cooling time. The rifle has a 24-inch barrel, and the removable magazine has a 3+1 capacity. (

When the rules call for a straight wall, and even if they don’t, it’s hard to beat Winchester’s XPR Strata MB in .350 Legend. An accurate bolt-action that doesn’t break the bank, the barrel and action feature a Perma-Cote FDE finish. The composite stock is perfect for the whitetail hunter, and the 22-inch barrel length and 6-pound 12-ounce build make this rifle ultra-maneuverable and a joy to tote. The receiver is machined from solid steel, the magazine is detachable, and the rifle has a two-position thumb safety. (

Lightweight and sure to put your round where you want it, Springfield’s Model 2020 Waypoint is an excellent choice for sit-and-wait and spot-and-stalk missions. Shooters can choose between a steel or carbon-fiber barrel, and the premium carbon-fiber stock is hand-laid and pillar bedded to create a perfect marriage with the action. With an impressive MOA of .75, the rifle, at 6.9 pounds, handles like a dream. And the integrally machined recoil lug and electrical discharge machining (EDM) of the bolt lug raceways ensure precise dimensions and smooth cycling. (

At 6.9 pounds, Nosler’s CCH blends competition-level accuracy with a rugged build that will handle any whitetail pursuit you dream up. The CCH’s magnesium alloy frame with a carbon pistol grip and foam carbon-fiber foldable buttstock ensure maximum precision. The action is Nosler’s well-known and uber-popular Model 21, and the carbon-fiber wrapped barrel boosts accuracy while helping this 6.5 Creedmoor remain extremely lightweight. (

Savage’s Impulse Mountain Hunter will serve you perfectly in the whitetail woods and in the Rockies. Offered in several whitetail favorites like .270 Win., .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor, this shooter is fitted with a Proof Research carbon-fiber-wrapped stainless steel barrel attached to a polymer frame. The three mentioned-above calibers come in barrel lengths of 22 inches, and the overall length is 44.75 inches. The design of the straight-action pull ensures rapid follow-up shots. (

For 2023, Weatherby launches its first bolt-action centerfire rifle in 50 years. Dubbed the Model 307, a gun inspired by those that call the Cowboy State home, this rifle’s 2-Lug, fully cylindrical design was built to ensure customization. And it will accommodate the many stocks, triggers, rails, mounts and magazines on the market. The bolt is a three-piece toolless takedown, and the bolt release button is above the receiver stock line to ensure stronger, safer and quicker bolt removal. The magazine is compatible with many 700 platform bottom metal options, and the Triggertech Trigger promises zero creep and an excellent break. (

Sleek and streamlined, Benelli’s B.E.S.T Lupo Camo bolt-action is now available in a whitetail favorite — the tried-and-true .308 Win. All metal parts are covered in Benelli’s Surface Treatment, a coating that provides unparalleled corrosion and abrasion resistance. The trigger is remarkably crisp, the short-action throw is immediate, and the 22-inch barrel combined with a weight rating of 6.9 pounds makes this rifle very maneuverable. The stock features a pair of recoil killers — the Combtech cheek pad and Progressive Comfort recoil reduction system, which tackles recoil at three stages. (

Listening to customer requests is one of many attributes that makes Taurus great. For 2023, the Raging Hunter is available in the 500 Magnum — considered by many to be the most potent factory revolver round ever. Available in barrel lengths of 5, 6.75 and 8 inches, each barrel is fitted with custom barrel ports to reduce recoil and keep the shooter on target for faster follow-up shots. The target barrel crown boosts accuracy, and the top Picatinny rail makes optic and accessory mounting easy. The cushioned grip provides maximum surface area contact, and the double lock system keeps the cylinder secure. (

Ideal for the whitetail hunter, Sig Sauer’s Sierra6 2-12x40mm riflescope places the benefits of the BDX system into a compact platform perfect for hunting deer from a tree stand or blind. Compact and lightweight, this optic is great for any deer rifle, muzzleloader, shotgun and even crossbows. With up to 95 percent light transmission, the Sierra6 ensures you’ll be able to get a clear view of your target in the final minutes of legal light. If you’re looking for a modern optic for the deer woods, this is one to strongly consider. (

When it comes to top-tier rifle toppers, few do it better than Leupold. Everything you need and nothing you don’t, Leupold’s VX-5HD is a winner. Available in powers of 5x: 1-5, 2-10, 3-15, 4-20 and more, the VX-5HD promises remarkable light transmission and industry-leading glare reduction to help you acquire and kill that big buck in the waning minutes of legal light. Protected by a Guard-Ion coating, the lenses resist dirt, water and always provide ultra-clear images. Lightweight, rugged and built for the hunt, this series of riflescopes has proven its salt time and time again. (

Bushnell’s Prime 3-9x40 is an in-the-field winner, and it now comes available in an illuminated model that provides a glowing dot in the center of the Multi-X reticle. Combined with this reticle’s thick lines, the luminous version is ideal for those early-morning and last-light shots, and far-sighted hunters can maintain the center of the crosshairs without things getting blurry. The Prime Illuminated model is IPX7 waterproof rated, and the HDOA optic system includes fully multi-coated optics with ultra-wide band coatings for optimal clarity. (

Leica makes fantastic optics, and if you’re looking to pair your favorite deer killer with a top-end scope loaded with Lecia technology that doesn’t break the bank, the Amplus is an excellent choice. Some features you can’t ignore include the sharp illuminated dot, 6-power zoom, a large exit pupil and an impressive field of view. Built like a tank and with 80 MOA elevation adjustment, this scope provides 90 percent light transmission, and the thicker outer lines of the reticle give way to finer lines with the red dot in the center. (

Burris dubs their VeracityPH 4-20x50 riflescope as “the fastest and most precise aiming solution in a hunting optic, ever.” Designed for the whitetail hunter shooting longer distances in open country, the VeracityPH features dial-to-the-distance technology, allowing you focus solely on making a good shot. With a great blend of reliability, quality and technology, the VeracityPH is a great optic for gun hunters. (

We love when a manufacturer builds a product specifically for the whitetail deer hunter. Enter Trijicon’s Huron — a four-model scope lineup engineered with durability and pinpoint precision. Ranging from 15.9 to 18.2 ounces and providing up to 100 MOA of adjustment from either a 30mm or 1-inch main tube, the Huron packs a lot of punch into a lightweight package. The Easy-Focus Eyepiece and extra-wide field of view boost situational awareness, and fully multi-coated broadband anti-reflective glass provides second-to-none light transmission. Reticle options are many, each with an uncluttered design that ensures fast and accurate shooting. (

The Conquest V4 3-12x44 riflescope from Zeiss is the ideal size for whitetail hunters chasing bucks in various habitats. By being lightweight, compact and hitting the “sweet spot” in magnification range, this Conquest V4 is the do-all optic for deer hunters. It comes standard with capped elevation and windage turrets, and the scope lights in plenty of light, allowing you to always properly identify your target. (

Vortex makes excellent glass, and we love that they provide optics at every price point to meet a wide range of budgets. A great whitetail-getter is the Viper HS 4-16x44. The advanced optical system blends with the 4x zoom range for maximum versatility — the scope works as well in the timber as it does in open sage flats where western whitetails love to dwell. Built on a robust 30mm one-piece aluminum tube, the Viper provides increased windage and elevation travel. And ArmorTec is a resist-the-elements coating that protects the lenses. (

The 7mm PRC is on the rise to power, and if you’ve taken the plunge or are considering the caliber, Hornady’s new-for-2023 Outfitter Line 7mm PRC is hard to beat. Filling a void between the ultra-popular 6.5 PRC and the 300 PRC, the 7mm PRC is a long, ballistically perfect make that comes in a 175-grain ELD-X load, a 180-grain ELD-M, and a 160-grain CX load in Hornady’s Outfitter line. Our favorite is Hornady’s 7mm PRC 175-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter, which has a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps and a G1 ballistic coefficient of .689. That is remarkable! (

A classic caliber that’s a nightmare for big bucks, the 35 Whelen needs no introduction. Branded by many as the poor man’s magnum, Winchester adds the 35 Whelen to its tested-true Power-Point line for 2023. Winchester built the round to give the shooter downrange precision and maximum lethality. Power-Point bullets showcase a copper jacket with strategically placed notches around the jacket’s mouth to initiate rapid and uniform expansion. Mr. Big won’t be able to handle one put in the lungs. Winchester’s Power-Point 35 Whelen is offered in a 200-grain bullet option, which is designed to drop bucks where they stand. (

Blending a streamlined polymer tip with a match-grade style boat tail for a ballistic win that wreaks havoc on whitetail, Norma’s BondStrike is a tried-and-true deer downer. The round is designed to provide terminal performance at all distances and deliver a bone-shattering shock. The BondStrike bullet’s thinner front jacket expands at all ranges. Power Bonding technology ensures high residual weight and penetration. BondStrike is available in multiple caliber configurations. (

Offered in about every whitetail-killing caliber you could imagine, Fiocchi’s Hyperformance Hunt family will help you fill the freezer and add memories to the photo album. Tipped with Sierra’s GameKing High-Quality Hollow Point Boat Tail, Hyperformance rounds promise remarkable accuracy, controlled expansion and weight retention across various velocities. (

Straight-walled calibers are required in many locales if you step in the woods with a rifle and hunt white-tailed deer. And even if bottle-neck cartridges are allowed, many whitetail gurus prefer a good straight-wall design. Enter Remington’s 360 Buckhammer, a bullet optimized for lever-action rifles with ballistics that ensure buck-dropping ability beyond 200 yards. The round is lethal, and according to those who’ve tapped a Remington 360 Buckhammer primer, it produces low recoil, which is excellent news for small-framed shooters. This round is worth a look in Remington’s Core-Lok SP in grain weights of 180 and 200. (

Browning makes great firearms, and they make quality ammo, too. For 2023, pair your favorite deer rifle with Browning’s Max Point — a round explicitly designed for whitetail. Designed to transfer on-impact energy quickly to guarantee dropped deer, the Max Point is worth sending downrange. Offered in a pile of favorite deer calibers, Max Point is also great for any medium-sized game. (

Available in an array of popular calibers, this match-grade accurate bullet hits like a tank and guarantees expansion across a range of velocities, meaning terminal performance will be achieved whether that buck is 50 yards or 500 yards out. The bullet’s tip is a non-standard polymer tip, and it has been specially crafted to resist deformation, maximize ballistics and initiate extreme-range expansion. Other call-out features include the concentric copper jacket, robust shank, boat tail and nickel-plated brass. (

If you like to take the smoke pole for venison, consider Hodgon White Hots 50/50. A .50 caliber 50-grain pellet, White Hots make for rapid reloading in charges that slip down the barrel and pack without the need for measurers or funnels. We call it winning, and White Hots are super-clean burning, so cleaning between shots isn’t required. White Hots can exceed speeds of 2,600 fps and create incredible contact energy. (

Nosler’s Ballistic Tip ammunition is tipped with the hard-hitting and reliable Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet. The bullet’s heavily jacketed base is ideal for forming large-diameter mushrooms, and its boat-tail design ensures accuracy and devastating performance. With this level of accuracy and consistency, Nosler’s Ballistic Tip ammunition is a must-see for deer hunters. (

The Harvester EVO is compatible with .223 Rem. to .300 Win. and is a standard silencer that provides ultra-impressive sound reduction and second-to-none reliability. Perfect for the deer woods, this can is rated down to 16-inch barrels, and the EVO is shorter and lighter than many on-the-market models. (

A best-seller and the most versatile silencer in the Banish line, the Banish 30 will work on any of your threaded coyote killers from .17 to .30 caliber magnums. The top-tier all-titanium alloy construction boosts durability and noise reduction, and internal baffles handle gasses exceptionally well to reduce noise and recoil further. Can-clean Technology means no special tools are needed to take the suppressor apart, making cleaning a breeze. The Banish 30 is available in a 7- or 9-inch model (depending on whether the tube extension is on), and weight is 10 ounces for the 7-inch suppressor and 13 ounces for the 9-inch model. (